Lockdown poem

21 May 2020 | Poem Ellen Hurst. Photo Supplied. Read time 1 min.
View from my desk.
View from my desk.

#UCTLockDownLetters is a new feature on the University of Cape Town (UCT) news site. Staff, students, parents of students: we want to hear about your experiences of work and life in lockdown. Emails, audio and video clips, prose and poetry are also very welcome. This is your space.

This contribution to Lockdown Letters comes from Associate Professor Ellen Hurst from the Humanities Education Development Unit.

5 May 2020


Another beautiful morning in lockdown

Far too early for a glass of wine

My toddler’s fifth whine

For a little bit of tv and a chocolate egg


An email from work

They’re glad to hear we’re all writing lots of papers

I find this hilarious


The infant has lost interest in pouring water into cups

I set up a teddy bear picnic

Then eat it

I look for recipes for salt-free playdough

(In case the dog eats it)

Then make some.

We cut biscuit shapes with metal cutters

And make wiggly worms.


Eventually I let her watch cBeebies

I wash dishes and hang the laundry

Make her scrambles


It’s 12 and still no work done

It takes an hour to get my child to nap.

I sit down, put my feet up, check the news

I know I shouldn’t, but hope drives me.

An hour later she wakes up again. 

I didn’t answer an email yet

Never mind write something

Lost in reports of Covid deaths

The latest science

And Trump the Terrifying

I think of the loss of my Dad

​​​​The northern summer we’d had planned

I wonder if they’ll accept teddy bear picnics

In lieu of a sabbatical publication count.

UCT News apologises unreservedly for the fact that an incomplete version of this poem was initially posted.


Share in our community. Document your thoughts and feelings during lockdown. Send your letter from home (max 1 200 words), audio, video (60 seconds maximum), prose poetry, slam poetry, prayers, benedictions, or songs to lockdownletters@uct.ac.za.

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Please view the republishing articles page for more information.

UCT Lockdown Letters: Share your stories

In order to foster a sense of community during the COVID-19 lockdown, a new initiative – #UCTLockdownLetters – invites staff and students from across UCT to share your stories about life and survival at home.

How has the lockdown affected you and your ability to work or study? What does your study-from-home space look like? What adaptations have you made to working from home? How are you coping as partners, parents, children, siblings and individuals? How do you cope with stress? What will you do differently after the lockdown?

This is your space to express yourself in any medium you choose: in words, prose, poetry, audio, video or pictures. Your contributions will be curated as part of a special platform designed for sharing – and to create a unique archive for future UCT communities.

Please send your submissions to LockdownLetters@uct.ac.za.

Please remember to avoid including copyrighted material in your submissions. UCT reserves the right to review and select submitted content for publication on this feature page. Videos (in .mp4 format) and audio files (in .mp3 format) can be shared with the Newsroom through downloadable link services like WeTransfer or Google Drive, among others. If you are unsure about how to film yourself, please watch the video tutorial.

Our stories

Video tutorials